While at training camp yesterday, I noticed two things about quarterback Andrew Luck that have not been talked about much: one, he's human; and two, he's a rookie. The former I learned after a few errant throws, the latter after looking at the roster.
Luck is in a tough position. Even last night, at practice, fans expected a lot. How much more so in a game? The expectations for Luck are unfair. The shoes he is expected to fill are like me trying to fill Shaq's shoes (literally).
For 13 years, Colts fans watched Peyton Manning put up numbers previously unheard of. Manning, currently with the Broncos, will go down as one of the greatest players in the history of the National Football League. And we expect Luck to be that good?
The comparison between Luck and Manning is sure to arise too many times to count over the course of not only the next year, but the next few as well. I feel bad for Luck, with such a player to be compared to (Luck seems to be handling it really well, but I'm sure it gets at him a little). But, as I was sitting there in the stands for Tuesday night's practice, my mind couldn't help but flash back to the many training camp practices I attended during the Manning era. And I noticed that not much had changed, other than the jersey on the quarterback (both number and color).
Sure, after 13 years of watching Peyton Manning I can distinguish his throwing motion from Luck's, and some of their mannerisms are different, but when it comes to running the offense, I couldn't tell them apart. That's probably the highest praise I could give Luck - he looked like Peyton.
Luck yesterday commanded the entire offense, and he doesn't even have a single preseason game under his belt. During quarterback drills, Luck was telling everyone where to stand and what to do. Sound like someone familiar? During the 11-on-11 drills, Luck was calling out signals at the line, getting everyone where they needed to be. He was making sure they were ready for the play. Again, sound like someone we used to know so well?
I know that Luck will make mistakes his rookie year, and probably quite a few. But even then, remember the great Peyton Manning threw 28 interceptions in his rookie season. The comparisons are inevitable - mainly because they are correct. Both guys are big, skilled, and incredibly smart. Both guys come from a football family. Both guys are class acts on and off the field. Both guys were the first overall pick in the draft, and both of them were selected by the Indianapolis Colts. Manning started from day one, as has Luck. Both had (or in Luck's case he has) total command of the offense. I could go on, but I think you get the point.
The Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck comparison will grow extremely tiring this year, I know. But that is because their stats will be compared. We actually should compare the seemingly little things at this point of Luck's career. He wasn't spectacular overall at throwing last night (though he did have some beautiful throws), but I was extremely impressed nonetheless. Why? It's the way he carries himself on the field, the way he commands, and deserves, respect. It's the way he runs the offense. It's the way he takes the time to talk to receivers, many of whom have been in the league longer than Luck, about what they are doing wrong. It's those little things that make such a huge difference, and make Luck remind me so much of Peyton.
I couldn't help but think as I sat looking around the stands last night that Luck's number 12 jersey will likely sometime in the near future be the one that defines Indianapolis. Nobody will ever forget Peyton Manning. I'm not sure anyone could even replace him either. But if anyone could, Andrew Luck is the guy. Those blue and white 18 jerseys will never go out of style, but how long until the majority of fans are wearing number 12?
I regret saying these things about Luck, because I fully expect him to make many mistakes and I didn't want to compare him to Peyton in the first place. But the similarities between the two are just so noticeable. In no way do I expect him to be as good as Peyton Manning, but just because he isn't in the same class as the greatest ever does not mean he won't be good. Or really good.
This kid is the can't miss prospect, the best prospect since John Elway. And while Manning seems to be Denver's long lost replacement for Elway, Luck has arrived much sooner to replace Manning. And for that, Colts fans should be thankful.
The can't miss kid won't be a miss - trust me. He's just too good.
Comparing Luck to Manning is totally acceptable, as long as the comparisons do not realistically expect Luck to live up to those incredibly high standards, especially right away. The way they play the game is nearly identical. Their styles of play are essentially the same.
I was thoroughly impressed by Andrew Luck last night. For a guy who has yet to take the field for an NFL game yet, he looks ready. As Pete Prisco said in his great read on the Manning and Luck comparisons,
Rookies aren't supposed to look like this. Only the special ones do, and the Colts seem to have another.
The Colts do have another special one, cut from the same cloth as the first. And I don't think Colts fans will mind that too much.